Harisongs, Chants of India

The year was 1972, I began attending the University of New Haven. My first class was Intro to Music held on the basement floor of the main building.

I walked in and chose a place to sit. Sitting in front of me was the music professor, barefoot, cross-legged on the rug. He had an Indian sitar on his lap. When we were all assembled, he said not a word as he began to play this marvelous instrument. I soon felt a wonderful sense of peace. I decided at that moment to minor in music at UNH. I later took a course on the music and culture of India. I learned about ragas and the tintal beat (16 beats actually in a rhythmic cycle).

Little did I realize how influential that time would become in the spirituality and the healing power of my soul.

George Harrison introduced us to Ravi Shankar through his recordings and at The Concert for Bangladesh. Their friendship has come full circle. I miss them both.

I first saw a Facebook post shared by Dhani Harrison about Harisongs. It led me to the George Harrison estate. Why don’t I let George Harrison and Ravi Shankar tell you more, Namaste’.

The George Harrison estate is happy to announce HariSongs, a new label created to celebrate the Indian classical music George loved and believed would “help as a balance towards a peaceful daily life.” HariSongs launches today with two reissues in honour of both Ravi Shankar’s birthday (b. 7th April, 1920) and Ali Akbar Khan’s birthday (b. 14th April, 1922) this month.

Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan’s In Concert 1972, and Ravi Shankar’s Chants of India, are now available for the first time via streaming outlets, as well as to download.

In Concert 1972

Then after I posted this article this morning I got an email from George Harrison titled, “Proudly announcing HariSongs”. I loved the picture it contained as well as these words from George.

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A Statement By George Harrison 

In 1966, through the grace of God, my life was blessed and enhanced from the sudden desire to investigate the classical music of India. Although intellectually, I could not comprehend it – the music, (which happened to be Ravi Shankar and the sitar) made more sense to me than anything I had heard in my life. When I read Ravi saying he felt he had only started, I was overwhelmed, humbled and encouraged to try and understand the music and the man much more. Miraculously I met Ravi Shankar and felt an even greater attraction to him, the music and later the tradition and self-discipline of India, without which, my life would be empty and pointless. In 1966 I heard music which had been written by Ravi Shankar some years before (Nava Rasa Ranga). It was performed by Ravi, along with some other musicians, for All India Radio. Until then I had not heard Indian classical music in any form other than solos or duets, and the beauty has haunted me for the past eight years and still haunts me today. I hope this Music may help a little, to nurture the wealth of the West. God only knows. – George Harrison, 1973

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ECM Streaming!

I am thankful that ECM Records has decided to stream their catalog of artist recordings on the major streaming services. I am an Apple Music subscriber who will enjoy playing this rich library of sound through my Sonos One and elsewhere. I always respected that ECM sought to support the direct sale of the music they distribute to music fans. But the times they are a changing and ECM is doing the right thing in following suit.

In recent years, ECM and the musicians have had to face unauthorized streaming of recordings via video sharing websites, plus piracy, bootlegs, and a proliferation of illegal download sites. It was important to make the catalogue accessible within a framework where copyrights are respected.[18]

I’m convinced this will increase ECM Records sales as it widens the lens of sampling ECM artist’s creations. Personally, I found five-plus decades of ECM music totally overwhelming. Now at one’s leisure, you can listen to some of the most innovative music on the planet through the sky.

ECM Records, may your decision to stream be beneficial to your artists and your stature as a leading purveyor of quality sound. It’s a wonderful gift you share with all of us.

Thank You for reaching this conclusion!

Signed,

A  loyal listener and purchaser

 

The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda

I have waited patiently within my soul for the spiritual music of Alice Coltrane to become available. As a firm believer in spirituality and the healing power of music these recordings resonate to the foundation of my beliefs.

“…If we put one fourth of the time into trying to understand our spirituality that we put into wanting to grow more wealthy, we would find some of the incredible things occurring in our universe that we need to be aware of…”

Alice Coltrane’s devotion to spirituality was the central purpose of the final four decades of her life, an often-overlooked awakening that largely took shape during her four-year marriage to John Coltrane and after his 1967 death. By 1983, Alice had established the 48- acre Sai Anantam Ashram outside of Los Angeles. She quietly began recording music from the ashram, releasing it within her spiritual community in the form of private press cassette tapes. On May 5th, the record label Luaka Bop, founded by David Byrne, will release the first-ever compilation of recordings from this period, making these songs available to the wider public for the first time. Entitled World Spirituality Classics, Volume 1: The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda’, the release is the first installment in a planned series of spiritual music from around the globe; curated, compiled and distributed by Luaka Bop.

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This powerful, largely unheard body of work finds Alice singing for the first time in her recorded catalog, which dates back to 1963 and includes appearances on six John Coltrane albums, alongside Charlie Haden and McCoy Tyner, and 14 albums as bandleader starting with her Impulse! debut in 1967 with ‘A Monastic Trio.’ The songs featured on the Luaka Bop release have been culled from the four cassettes that Alice recorded and released between 1982 and 1995: ‘Turiya Sings,’ ‘Divine Songs,’ ‘Infinite Chants,’ and ‘Glorious Chants.’ The digital, cassette and CD release will feature eight songs. The double-vinyl edition features two additional songs, “Krishna Japaye” from 1990’s ‘Infinite Chants, and the previously unreleased “Rama Katha” from a separate ‘Turiya Sings’ recording session.

Luaka Bop teamed with Alice’s children to find the original master tapes in the Coltrane archive. The recordings were prepared for re-mastering by the legendary engineer Baker Bigsby (Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra, John Coltrane), who had overseen the original sessions in the 80s and 90s. The compilation showcases a diverse array of recordings in addition to Alice’s first vocal work: solo performances on her harp, small ensembles, and a 24-piece vocal choir. The release is dotted with eastern percussion, synthesizers, organs and strings, making for a mesmerizing, even otherworldly, listen. Alice was inspired by Vedic devotional songs from India and Nepal, adding her own music sensibility to the mix with original melodies and sophisticated song structures. She never lost her ability to draw from the bebop, blues and old-time spirituals of her Detroit youth, fusing a Western upbringing with Eastern classicism. In all, these recordings amount to a largely untold chapter in the life story of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda.

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In addition to the recordings, GRAMMY-winning music historian Ashley Kahn has written extensive liner notes for the collection. The package also includes a series of interviews with those who knew Alice best, conducted by Dublab’s Mark “Frosty” McNeill, and an as-told-to interview between musician Surya Botofasina (who was raised on Alice’s ashram) and journalist Andy Beta. 2017 marks what would have been Alice’s 80th year of life, as well as the 10th anniversary of her passing. Alice will be celebrated at events throughout the United States, Europe and South America in the coming year. With this in mind, the time is right to bring this meaningful piece of Turiyasangitananda’s legacy into focus.

Track Listing

1. Om Rama*
2. Om Shanti
3. Rama Rama
4. Rama Guru
5. Hari Narayan
6. Journey to Satchidananda**
7. Er Ra
8. Keshava Murahara
9. Krishna Japaye
10. Rama Katha

Paul Simon, Collaboration vs. Apartheid

I recall when I attended community college in 1972 that I had protested against apartheid in South Africa. We wrote a petition to Polaroid against the use of their instant cameras as the photography medium for black South African inter-country passports. I bitterly opposed the suppression of rights in that country. Eventually apartheid was abolished.

Paul Simon faced controversy for seemingly breaking the cultural boycott imposed by the rest of the world against South Africa because of its policy of apartheid. In addition, some critics viewed Graceland as an exploitive appropriation of their culture. Following its completion, Simon toured alongside South African musicians, combining the music of Graceland and their own music.

My interest in this period of Paul Simon’s discography was reawakened when I saw CBS Sunday Morning. I was overjoyed to see Paul Simon’s world music instrument collection.

I listened several times to the 25th anniversary remastering of Graceland and decided to dive deeper with the Paul Simon documentary, Paul Simon: Under African Skies which examines multiples sides of the controversy that occurred. It has great concert footage and helps us to see the true common bond music and friendship can achieve.

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Deep Forest, evo devo

Ever since my college music days some 40+ years ago I have been enamored with musique electronique. Like many musicologists I consider French-born composer, Edgard Varese the Father of Electronic Music. Frank Zappa, Varese’s protegé characterized him best, “The present day composer refuses to die.”

If you study the six degrees of separation between musique electronique, Varese, and Zappa you will juxtapose the French  composer Eric Mouquet, founder of the pioneering electro-ethno-ambient band, Deep Forest.

There is peace to experience in the journey through the light and trees in the deep forests of our world. Eric Mouquet navigates those experiences in his travels,  treating our senses to those natural settings.

The latest Deep Forest recording, evo devo is an earthly treasure. Mouquet revisits the sounds he and Michel Sanchez first recorded on Deep Forest in 1992 (now out of print). Those are some of the most amazing sonic textures I have ever absorbed. The remixes of some of those original tracks on this album made me smile to hear them once more.

Deep Forest

Deep Forest recently held a Pledge Music project which I missed, but I was able to order an autographed copy of evo devo, from the Web page today.

Allow yourself to experience Deep Forest, connecting your spirit with the nature and our world.

Whales Alive – Paul Winter


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The Nantucket Historical Association (NHA) is pleased to welcome special guests Paul Winter and Dr. Roger Payne for a legendary one-night concert on Wednesday, August 31, 2016 at 7 P.M. at the Whaling Museum, 13 Broad Street.

Paul Winter is a saxophonist and composer, and seven-time Grammy winner. Dr. Roger Payne is the biologist famous for the discovery of humpback whale songs in the 1960s, and an environmentalist who has played a major role in the worldwide campaign to end commercial whaling. The two have collaborated for decades in creating music inspired by the whales, interweaving these extraordinary voices into the fabric of the music.

This special “Whales Alive” concert features music based on themes from the songs of the whales, interwoven with the whales’ voices. It will include the finale from the Winter/Payne album Whales Alive, featuring Payne’s poem “The Voyage Home,” narrated by Leonard Nimoy. Dr. Payne will tell of his adventures recording whales since the mid-20th century, and also speak about the ongoing challenges whales still face, as well as pollution in the world’s oceans.

“In the past, whales were valued as a commercial product on Nantucket,” says Paul Winter. “It will be a privilege to come here now and celebrate the beauty of living whales and their iconic voices in the present day.”

As described by Winter and Payne in the “Whales Alive” album liner notes, “Whale songs, in this short while since they have come into our culture, have touched the hearts of a human audience so large that whale-watching is now a bigger business than whale-killing. We have come to value their living beauty more than their dead bodies. They have helped us mature, and to acquire humility, as our consciousness has grown from “Save the Whales” to “Saved by the Whale.” ‘Whales Alive’ is a celebration of optimism, and our song of gratitude to whales for the beauty and wisdom they have brought into our lives.”

Paul Winter’s musical odyssey has long embraced the traditions of the world’s cultures, as well as the wildlife voices of what he refers to as “the greater symphony of the Earth.” From the early days of his college jazz sextet, which toured Latin America for the State Department and performed the first-ever jazz concert at the White House for the Kennedys in 1962, to his later ensemble, the Paul Winter Consort, his concert tours and recording expeditions have taken him to 52 countries and to wilderness areas on six continents, where he has traveled on rafts, dog sleds, mules, kayaks, tug-boats and Land Rovers.

 

Winter has recorded 45 albums, of which 7 have been honored with Grammy® Awards. Since 1980, Paul and his Consort have been artists-in-residence at New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine, where they have presented over 200 unique events, including their famed annual Winter Solstice and Summer Solstice Celebrations. Paul’s current project is “Flyways: A Celebration of the Great Bird Migration from Africa through the Middle East to Eurasia” which will incorporate indigenous music of each of the sixteen countries over which the birds fly, interwoven with the voices of the birds.

Dr. Roger Payne is best known for his studies of whales in the wild. He has an AB from Harvard and a Ph.D. from Cornell. He is best known for his co-discovery (with Scott McVay) that humpback whales actually sing songs. His 1971 article in National Geographic magazine included a playable recording of whale songs.
Payne has led over 100 expeditions to all oceans and studied every species of large whale in the wild. He pioneered many of the benign research techniques now used throughout the world to study free-swimming whales, and he has trained many of the current leaders in whale research, both in the US and abroad. Payne has lectured at most major U.K. and U.S. universities, and from 1971-1990 appeared on most major TV and radio talk shows, as well as being the subject of more than 40 television films. Payne was also featured in the 2015 Jane and Payne, exploring his friendship with Jane Goodall.
This concert is being presented with the generous support of the Hall-Froelich Foundation.
Admission to this incredible evening is only $10 per person for the performance, with limited $50 tickets available for the performance and a reception immediately following. All tickets are on sale now at www.nha.org/tickets.

Doors open at 6:30 P.M., with the concert beginning promptly at 7 P.M.

For more information, visit www.nha.org or call (508) 228-1894.

21st Annual International Festival of Arts and Ideas

The lineup for Festival 21 International Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven, CT is announced. The event takes place from June 10-25th. It’s awesome!

I am especially psyched that the Maria Schneider Orchestra will be performing this year.

Watch the video and feel the excitement for this world recognized event.

Atomic Bomb! The Music of William Onyeabar, David Byrne and Others ;)

The world of music is infinite and that’s a positive vibration for the planet. Speaking of positive vibrations have you heard of William Onyeabar? I just learned about his unique rhythmic music this morning . William Onyeabar was a funk musician from Nigeria. According to the Luaka Bop record label, Onyeabor “self-released 8 albums between 1978 and 1985 and then became a born-again Christian, refusing ever to speak about himself or his music again.

Onyeabar’s music speaks volumes by itself and more explosively through the interpretation  of others. David Byrne who knows how music works has assembled the Atomic Bomb Band. They made their major network debut on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Put on your ten-gallon hat and groove to “Fantastic Man“.

David Byrne, the Atomic Bomb Band and other fervent Onyeabar stalwarts are performing in Los Angeles and San Francisco this week.

The US Premiere took place on May 2 & 3 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Howard Gilman Opera House.

Give them a listen, you will be happily astonished at how good a groove they generate.

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Carlos Santana & Wyclef Jean Collaborate Again!

I am über psyched to discover that Carlos Santana and Wyclef Jean have collaborated again to bring the world the Official Anthem of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil entitled, “Dar um Jeito (We Will Find A Way)”. The anthem also features Avicci and Alexandre Pires on vocals. The composition comes from the writing genius of two-time Grammy-nominee Ash Pournouri.

“In Portuguese Dar Um Jeito means to find a way around obstacles and impossibilities,” said Pournouri. “With this track, we wanted to send a message of optimism and opportunity with the music and the words.”

Carlos Santana and Wyclef Jean first collaborated on the mega-hit, “Maria, Maria” with Product G&B.

Carlos Santana said of the project “It is an honour to take part in the 2014 FIFA World Cup and have “Dar um Jeito (We Will Find A Way”) selected as the Anthem. Along with my brothers, Wyclef, Avicii and Alexandre Pires, we look forward to performing the song in Rio de Janeiro in July and sharing this message of light and hope on the FIFA World Cup stage.”

As the fourth piece to be added to the tournament’s official music programme, “Dar um Jeito (We Will Find A Way)” will form part of the official 2014 FIFA World Cup™ Album alongside the Official Song by Pitbull, Jennifer Lopez and Claudia Leitte as well as the SuperSong winning track to be recorded by Ricky Martin and the Official Mascot Song which was released in 2012 by Brazilian singer Arlindo Cruz.

I can’t wait to hear  the collaborative recording “Dar um Jeito (We Will Find A Way)” in late April.

You can read more about this historic collaboration on the Official Santana News page here.

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